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What Do You Need To Do Your Own Gel Nails

Can Gel Manicures Damage Your Nails


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Say you notice that your gel polish is chipped. As annoying as that might be, you should never pick off the rest. “Gel manicures dont damage nails what can be damaging is a poor removal process such as peeling it off the nail,” Totty says.

The biggest disadvantage to gel manicures is improper removal, Gibson Tuttle shares. You can avoid this by properly removing the polish yourself at home or seeking manicurists who take their time in removal to protect your nails.

Even when you follow every protocol for healthy gel removal, theres a chance that your nail plates could come out looking and feeling damaged. If peeling nails is your reality, Gibson Tuttle says it’s best to skip gels for a while and allow the nail to grow out. Applying daily cuticle oil is a must to help your nails grow strong, she adds.

Two: Cleansing The Nails

Grab a bottle of nail cleanser, nail polish remover, or rubbing alcohol, and dip a small piece of paper towel into the formula. I’m a fan of Orly’s GelFX 3-in-1 Cleanser as well as Zoya’s Remove Plus Nail Polish Remover. Afterwards, you want to wipe down each nail, making sure to focus on the edges and around the cuticles to remove any excess oils or residue.

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Lifestyle expert Amy Goodman has already taught us how to remove a gel manicure at home, so thankfully our nails are looking healthy .

You’re probably missing the feeling of being pampered at the nail salon right about now, though, so Amy has the next best thing. She’s showing you how to do your own gel-like manicure while you’re staying home like a pro.

Watch her demonstrate in the video above and get the step-by-step below.


  • Essential oil
  • Nail file
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Gel nail polish*

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These At Home Gel Nail Kits Are Totally Foolproof

When it comes to a manicure, gel nails are by far the best option in terms of durability. They resist the chips and loss of shine unlike your average paint job. A good one can last as long as three weeks. In a nutshell: they’re what everyone wants from a manicure. However, regular gel manis in-salon can leave you and your bank balance on bad terms. So, a DIY gel nail kit could be the way to go, especially while the salons are closed and if youre in need of a little pick-me-up.

But how do you get that perma-shine effect without the expertise of a technician? You can opt for a gel topcoat or gel nail polish, which tend to be thicker in consistency and more hardwearing than your average polish. Or, you can invest in an LED kit for a pro mani at home like the popular Mylee Gel LED Kit, £70, or the Le Mini Macaron Gel Manicure Set, £60. We asked session manicurist, Jenni Draper gel manicure-lover and beauty blogger Josie Fear of Fashion Mumblr for all their top tips.

Size & Apply Your Acrylic Nails Using Acrylic Nail Glue

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Depending on the kit you get, youll have a variety of different acrylic tip sizes, widths, and lengths to choose fromjust as you would with press-on nails. Because of this, you need to go through the sizes to find the ones that best fit your tips. If there are no perfect fits, use your nail file to gently file them to the correct width.

According to nail expert Evelyn Lim, tips used for acrylic application have an indent on the inside of the tipwhich is approximately 2-3 mm at most and the free edge of your natural nail should fit right underneath. “It is best to trim the natural nail short prior to application,” she advises. Once youve selected your acrylic tips, apply them one at a time with a dot of acrylic nail glue. You want the bottom edge of the acrylic tip to be centered about one-third of the way down your nail so that it will remain sturdy as your nails begin to grow out. Apply pressure to the nail for five to 10 seconds to ensure that its secure and move on to the next tip until all 10 are complete.

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Getting Started With Your Diy Gel Nails:

First off, we want to start off with CLEAN, DEHYDRATED nails. I cant stress this enough! One of the biggest issues when it comes to gel polish not lasting is natural oils on the nail plate, so wash those hands and cleanse your nails with 100% pure acetone.

For this set we shaped the nails to a soft square. Youll want to use a nail file that has 180 GRIT. This is going to be soft enough to file the free edge of your nail without roughing it up too much, but it also has enough grit to where you can use it to gently buff the top of your nail plate so the gel polish will properly adhere. Make sure you do gently file over the whole nail so the polish sticks! It should look white and chalky.

One of the common misconceptions is that you should use a soft buffer to smooth over the nail plate, but if your nail is too smooth the gel will peel right off. Using the right grit and a nail file prolongs the longevity of your mani by a long shot!

The Ingredients In The Gel Polish Matter

“More than just nail health, I opt for total body health, says Jenna, who warns against the toxic trio carcinogens that are present in many polishes: Formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate . “After clinical testing, in high doses, these ingredients were found to cause inflammation along with many other adverse side effects like disturbing liver and thyroid function for example, Rita explains. Luckily, most all professional-grade nail polishes manufactured today do not contain these nasties. Jenna’s own brand of lacquers, along with Jinsoon’s, RGB’s, Zoya’s, and Sally Hansen’s come formulated without those common culprits.

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Are Gel Manicures Safe

UV lights automatically come with the assumption of scary side effects , so some brands have switched over to LED curing, thanks to their lower levels of UV rays. Totty says, “Over the last couple of years, gel manicures have become the most popular service in any salon. There has been ample research regarding damage to skin and nails the traditional UV lamps used for curing these products have different bulbs than traditional tanning beds, and most nail brands are switching to LED lamps simply because they cure the product in 30 seconds compared to two to three minutes using a UV lamp.”

On the other hand, if you love your UV lamp for drying, Gibson Tuttle recommends applying sunscreen beforehandjust in case.

As with most nail polishes, some gels are made with better ingredients than others. While its hard for gel polishes to be completely clean, the biggest ingredients you want to keep an eye out for are dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, and toluene. These ingredients are not only toxic, but some are even carcinogenic. So, if youre mindful about shopping clean, this is something you certainly want to be aware of.

How To Do Gel Nails At Home With A Diy Gel Nail Kit


If youve ever had a professional gel manicure, the process of doing gel nails at home will probably be pretty familiar to you, but for those who havent, heres how to do it


First things first: before getting started with your gel nail kit, youll want to prepare your nails by making sure theyre clean, free of any polish, and filed into the shape you want. Once youve done that, give each nail a quick wipe over with a lint-free pad soaked in the Prep+Wipe solution.


Once your nails are prepped, its time to apply the base coat. Youll be applying quite a few coats of polish, so make the base coat as thin as possible, and try to paint all the way up to the tip of the nail, to help seal in the polish and make it harder to chip off. Its also best to do one hand at a time, because as soon as you have that first coat done, youll be moving straight to step three


The most important step of the process, and the thing which makes gel manicures different than regular ones is the part when you cure the polish by placing your hand under your LED lamp. My lamp has three buttons on the top, allowing you to set the length of time itll remain switched on for. I give each coat two minutes to cure, and Ill sometimes do my thumb separate from the rest of my fingers, purely because its a little easier to position it that way, but you can easily do all five fingers at once.

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Cut And File Your Nails

Before you apply any polish, you need to make sure your nails are prepped and ready to go. Start by cutting your nailsyoull want them all equal lengthsand then file to smooth out any rough edges. Pro tip: Glass nail files are great for getting a smooth finish, since they’re a bit more gentle than traditional emery boards .

How To Apply Gel Nail Polish

There are more in-depth guides online on how to do your nails and many ways to do them but heres a basic run down on how to do your at home gel nails.

  • Prep your nails by washing them, pushing back your cuticles, shaping your nails, buffing them, etc.
  • Apply the base polish with an even thin coat, and cure for 30 seconds.
  • Apply the gel polish color with an even thin coat, and cure for 60 seconds. Repeat for two or three coats, depending on how solid you want your nail color.
  • Apply the top polish with an even thin coat, and cure for 30 seconds.
  • Use a little bit of gel cleanser on a cotton pad, and wipe off the sticky moisture layer. A little color may come off but thats ok as your nails will still look fabulous.
  • Enjoy your nails for 11-14 days!
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    How To Choose The Right Gel Nail Starter Kit

    To select one of the best at home gel nail extension kit, here are a few crucial things you must keep in mind:

    • Check whether your shortlisted at-home gel nail kit comprises all the essential supplies listed above or not
    • Prefer a kit that has ahigh-quality LED nail lamp instead of a UV lamp as it is a healthier, safer, and quicker option to cure your nails
    • Check the lamp details before sealing the deal and look for a high powered LED nail lamp that comes with an auto-sensor, faster curing, and multiple timer options
    • If you are a beginner, grab astarter edition of your DIY gel nail kit to master the basics first.
    • Once youve practiced doing gel nails for beginners, proceed to theLuxe andDeluxe edition to get your hands on more nail colors and intricate tools.

    Do Gel Manis Damage Your Nails

    How to Do Gel Nails at Home

    Not when they’re done correctly! “Gel manicures are not bad for your nails when professionally done,” Duguay-Gordon says. “It can be damaging though, without proper nail prep, application and removal.” A common misconception is that gel manis damage your nails when in reality, the removal process is usually the most harmful.

    Avoid picking the gel off yourself , and if you’re getting your nails done at the salon, be sure your nail technician isn’t filing, buffing them down, or using a drill.

    Many people worry about getting gels because they fear their nails won’t be able to “breathe,” but Duguay-Gordon assures that nails don’t breath, as they’re dead to begin with. The whole idea is a myth, but it is kind of cute to imagine your little nails with micro-nostrils.

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    One: Filing Down The Polish

    Once we were ready to get started, the nail expert instructed me to take the file from the kit and swipe it across the nail bed where the polish was still present excluding the grow out areas making sure to only go in one direction, rather than back and forth. The goal here is only to break down the top layer of polish, without hitting the natural nail.

    How To Do Gel Nails At Home

    If youre like me, a manicure is not a long-lasting beauty treatment. As hard as I try to keep my nails looking pretty, dishes, work and well, life, often leave my nail color chipped and in disarray within a few days of a salon visit. But with the influx of new at-home gel nail kits on the market, you can now have a salon-quality manicure for up to two weeks for a fraction of the price it would cost in a salon. And its easier than you think.

    Gel nails trump a regular mani with their durability, but can cost anywhere from $25-100 depending on salon or spaa bit too pricey for those of us on tight budgets. I spoke with Catherine Baek DAmbrosia, director of Global Education at ORLY, about cutting costs with at-home gel nail kits. As a nervous newbie, I asked her how to make the at-home gel nail process easier. All of the bottles and tools can be a little startling at first. Take your time. Total application time is approximately 30 to 40 minutes, says Baek DAmbrosia. Make sure to read the instructions before using and remember to avoid flooding the cuticle wall and skin area.

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    To Finish Your Diy Gel Nails:

    To finish these off, we used a high shine no-wipe topcoat. Some topcoats have a tacky or residual layer after theyre cured so make sure if youre using a topcoat that does have a tacky layer to wipe it with alcohol after. You can also float the topcoat a little when applying for some added strength.

    Cure for 60 seconds in an LED lamp.

    Once your nails come out of the lamp and are free of any tacky layer, apply cuticle oil and KEEP APPLYING throughout the day. Trust me, with all the hand washing going on youre going to want to! It also helps add flexibility to your nail so your mani doesnt get brittle and chip.

    Finish rubbing that cuticle oil in and youre finished!! These diy gel nails should last you at least 2-4 weeks and give you something to do while youre Netflix binging, win-win


    I cant wait to do my nails now! Thanks for breaking the process down so simply for all of us, Kaiti. This Survival Series has been so much fun. Ive learned a lot, and I hope you have too. And most importantly, I hope you feel a little more prepared to face another day in #quarantine!

    Dont forget to sign up for my weekly email with all of these Survival Series tips in one place! Click the button below to sign up now!

    Links to everything you need for your DIY gel nails-

    Applying Poly Gel To Dual Forms

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    Compared to what the professionals use, Poly Gel is a little thicker, but its otherwise very similar. Heres how to create your extensions with it, using solid dual forms.

    Poly Gel kits are usually sold with hard dual forms, which is why this is the method we explain. You can also use Poly Gel with sticky nail forms, mostly following the process in the next section. The only difference is that you would need to dip your brush in alcohol to move the Poly Gel around since its not as fluid as self-leveling gel.

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    How To Do A Professional Gel Manicure At Home

    The secrets out: Ive done my own gel nails at home for years. Im not talking about a manicure with regular nail polish or the pseudo-gel polish alternatives out there. Im talking about doing a professional-quality gel manicure with the exact products that are used at your salon. This is not a drill.

    With the right technique and a little patience, you can truly get the same high quality, long-lasting result at a fraction of the price, without leaving your home. Since were all social distancing right now, I wanted to break down everything you need to achieve a gel manicure and I promise, anyone can do this! Below Im detailing every product and trick for achieving a perfect, healthy, long-lasting manicure at home so we can all save some money and love our nails .

    Glass Or Crystal Files

    There are numerous types of nail files like emery board, glass, or crystal files. We recommend glass or crystal as they last longer. They have the file pattern etched into the glass or crystal, hence the longevity.

    Good to note cheap glass files have patterns that are glued to the surface rather than etched, which can wear off quickly. Glass or crystal are also best for your natural nails, as they smooth the nail tip to seal it rather than shredding the nail tip.

    If you have a durable glass or crystal file, it can serve you many years since the pattern is etched on the glass and will not wear. They’re perfect for personal use so minimize sharing. Also, make sure to clean them after a while to keep them safe for use. It’s a tool you can’t miss if you want to start your journey to do home gel nails.

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